Football is the most popular sport in the United States in terms of viewership and the amount of betting action it receives. Millions of people tune each week to watch both the NFL and college football, and research has shown that an estimated $100 billion is wagered on professional and collegiate football each year.
Of the $100 billion handle, 98 percent of all bets on football take place at offshore betting sites – becoming the biggest market in the online sportsbook industry. It is our mission to provide you with current information for betting on football and list our recommendations for the best offshore betting sites to wager on NCAAF odds and NFL betting lines.
Football, being a fall sport that typically kicks off in early September, has not been affected by COVID-19 as yet. That could change at any time, and there may be some behind-the-scenes issues with NFL free agents and NCAA recruiting, but so far, both major leagues are full speed ahead. Unfortunately, the XFL 2020 revival was cancelled five games into the season, though the league will be back with a vengeance in 2021. The 2020 NFL Draft will also go ahead as scheduled, though without a live audience. In the meantime, if you wish to gamble, all the best sportsbooks also offer poker rooms, live table games, casino games, racebooks, and slots.
Best Football Betting Site in the United States
#1 For US Sports Bettors
When it comes to football betting on both NFL and college football games, Bovada Sportsbook is one of the safest and most reputable websites you can choose to play at. Not only are they one of the biggest names in online gambling for American players, but they also offer one of the most robust sportsbooks around offering many more betting options than the rest. Whether you want to make straight bets, teasers or half time wagers, Bovada offers it all. They actually offer the best parlay odds around as well paying up to an additional 20%.
New players can enjoy a 50% signup bonus up to $250 on their first deposit, and enjoy betting on sports, poker or casino games all under one roof. They also offer live betting and a mobile app for players on the go. And because they are one of the most reputable sites, players can always count on getting paid on time.
Is it Legal to Bet on NFL and College Football Games in the US?
Yes, and the state you live in will determine whether you must be at least 18 or 21 years of age to bet on football games. Only a handful of states have legalized local sportsbooks following the repeal of PASPA, and 48 states, along with Washington D.C., do not prohibit residents from using offshore betting sites to wager on the NFL and college football.
For more legal information, including the U.S. Supreme Court repeal of PASPA and to find out the specific sports betting laws of your state, visit our guide to sports betting laws in the United States.
Where Can I Bet on Football in the United States?
- Offshore Sportsbooks: Online - NFL Betting & College Football Betting:
Washington and Connecticut are the only states with laws that outright ban licensed offshore online sportsbooks. The other 48 states, including the District of Columbia, allow football bets to be placed from desktop and mobile devices when using offshore betting sites.
- State-Licensed Sportsbooks: Land-based - NFL Betting & College Football Betting:
*some states impose restrictions for college football betting lines relevant to local teams
The following states allow football wagers to be placed at sportsbooks located in brick-and-mortar casinos and racetracks.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
State-Licensed Sportsbooks - Online - NFL Betting & College Football Betting:
*Some states impose restrictions for college football betting relevant to local teams.
Even though a handful of states have legalized betting on football and other sports, most still do not allow online sportsbooks to operate within its jurisdiction. Here are the states that allow online and mobile bets on football.
- Montana (awaiting launch)
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- Tennessee (awaiting launch)
How to Bet on NFL and NCAA Football – Beginner Tips and Guide
If you’re a rookie looking to make a profit in the NFL and college football betting world, you need to know a few things before taking the snap and placing your bet.
- Knowing the game of football
Whether your bets are on the NFL, college football, or both, you need to have a deep understanding of the differences between the two and how the game is played in both from a historical and current perspective.
Knowing statistics, including trends like how much turnovers factor into wins/losses and why passing yards per game is valued more than ever in today’s game, will set you up for long-term success.
- Choosing a safe sportsbook
The next step is choosing an option that is safe and secure. Each of the offshore sportsbooks featured on our site has been reviewed by our team to ensure they are licensed and use the latest encryption methods for deposits and withdrawals.
We’ve vetted each site by placing bets over extended periods of time to make sure each one pays out winnings in a timely manner. Additionally, state-licensed sportsbooks are a safe option where available.
- Practice responsible betting techniques
After signing up at a sportsbook, determining how much money you can deposit is the most important step and should solely be based on your current financial situation.
Betting on football should never cut into your living expenses or savings. Only deposit what you’re willing to lose and treat your bets like a stock market investment, where you’d be able to afford everything in your daily life should the worst happen.
- Learn to manage your bankroll
Coupled with practicing responsible betting techniques is developing proper bankroll management. There is no such thing a “safe” or “sure” bet and going “all in” on single betting line is not smart. Never bet more than 3% of your entire bankroll on a single NFL or college football line and limit yourself to 15% in total wagers per week.
This will minimize how much you lose over time and create a steady return on investment when you win. Additionally, this method gives you a chance to analyze your bets on a week-by-week basis and allows you to re-think your predictions by looking at what went right and what went wrong.
- Become familiar with the types of bets
For bets on professional and collegiate football, there are numerous types of bets you can make. If you’re just starting out, then stick to these four until you become more familiar with betting in general.
- Points Spread – A set number where the favorite (-) has points taken away from its predicted margin of victory and must win by more than the line indicates. The underdog (+) can win the game or lose by no more than the set number.
- Example: Clemson (+6) vs. Alabama (-6)
- To Cover: Alabama must win by 7 points, Clemson can win or lose by 5 or fewer points
- Money Line – A line where the favorite is given higher odds (lower payout) and the underdog is given lower odds (higher payout). This type of bet is solely based on which team wins the game.
- Example: Rams (+155) @ Saints (-175)
- Payout: Rams bet needs 100 units to win 155 units, Saints bet needs 175 units to win 100 units
- Totals (Over/Under) – A set number on the predicted total points scored by both teams and a bet must be placed on whether the combined score from both teams will go over or under the set number.
- Example: Patriots @ Chiefs, Total Point 57
- O/U win: Over wins with 58 or more points, Under wins with 56 or fewer points
- Futures – A set of odds released weeks or months ahead of an outcome being determined. Note: Don’t tie too much of your funds in futures since it’s more efficient to increase the size of your bankroll by betting weekly as opposed to waiting months for a potential payout. However, betting a small amount requires little investment and could set up an opportunity to hedge your bet later.
- Example: Odds to win the Super Bowl LIII: Saints (+175), Chiefs (+250), Patriots (+325), Rams (+350)
- Payout: If the team wins Super Bowl LIII: Saints return 275 units, Chiefs return 350 units, Patriots return 425 units, Rams return 450 units
- Prop Bets - Prop bets are much more common with NFL betting and include NFL season props, NFL player props and NFL team props. Super Bowl props are also very popular and include betting lines for the commercials, national anthem performance, half time performance, as well as broadcasting props. While college football prop betting is not as plentiful, these lines do emerge from time to time.
- Stay updated on injuries and roster news
Football is a game full of injuries and staying up-to-date on who’s active, questionable, and out is important when determining how much a player can (if at all) contribute toward a team winning on game day.
Furthermore, roster additions and departures can be a benefit or a detriment depending on the player involved. Following the news and using social media is a great way to accomplish these things. Just be sure to stay away from the opinionated news and posts because remember: They likely don’t have any skin in the game.
- Don’t bet on your favorite team
Finally, the last bit of advice for beginners is to avoid betting on your favorite NFL or college football team. You’ve likely rooted for a team for several years or maybe even several decades and cheer for them to win every game they play.
This inherently creates bias since fandom skews reality and makes you believe your team can always win even when they mathematically can’t win. Objectivity and remaining neutral is the only way to make predictions as clear as possible.
And don’t take this as “stop being a fan of your favorite team.” You’ll put money on and against all teams eventually, but betting against your favorite team is something that goes against the inherent nature of being a “fan” and can create problems in the future. To avoid these issues, just stay away from betting on games that have your favorite team as one side of the matchup.
Are More Bets Placed on NFL or College Football Games?
Until the last few years, NFL bets undeniably reigned supreme and have historically exceeded the amount wagered on college football or any other sport for that matter. With the expansion of sports betting across the land, will that hold true as more people gain access to betting options, noticeably affecting wagering dynamics?
According to Michael Lawton, an analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the split for NFL vs NCAAF bets has traditionally been 60-40 in favor of the pros. Lawton added that college football has started gaining. Lawton is not the only expert to see this trend. Long-time bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro also told the New York Times in 2017 that he had witnessed betting on college football games at one Nevada sportsbooks exceed NFL betting by as much as $400K.
There could be several reasons for this. Bettors are more informed than they were before the information age, and many more people are recognizing that the unpredictable nature of college football lends itself to more flawed lines that end up in the bettor's favor, something you see less often for NFL betting lines.
Another reason could be the NFL's less favorable status among fans during the Anthem protests. Reduced viewership and game attendance are among indications that at least some fans were 'not a fan' of the protests. The protests did impact public perception of team dynamics to some degree, which may have led bettors to question the risk factor.
So while NFL betting has seen the most action, college football betting threatens to run the pros out of the end zone. There simply isn't much data out there that breaks down the numbers between NFL and college betting statistics since the repeal of PASPA, however, we expect this to change as sports betting becomes more widely accepted in the United States and therefore monitored more closely.
Additional Football Betting Resources
2019 - 2020 NFL Season Preview – Here you’ll find our preview for the 2018 NFL Season which includes the top contenders to win AFC, NFC and Super Bowl LIII.
NFL Betting Guide - This page provides information specifically for fans interested in betting on the NFL league games, players and events. You'll find everything you need to make informed decisions regarding our NFL bets.
Super Bowl LIII Betting Guide - This page provides insight into betting on the odds for the Super Bowl, a preview of Super Bowl 53 and where to find the best betting lines.
Thanksgiving Day Football Betting Guide - This is the perfect guide for anyone new to sports betting who would like to have a better understanding of how to bet on Turkey Day football games legally.
NCAAF Betting Guide - For college football fans, we've developed a comprehensive guide that provides valuable insight for betting on the college football games, bowl games, the College Football Playoff, and the CFP national championship.
XFL betting Guide - The XFL is set to begin its inaugural season directly following the 2020 NFL Super Bowl. The league is reportedly going to be gambling-friendly with apps and data available to XFL football bettors.